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3

Ella

 

One shot. Two shots. Three and more. Ella lost count of drinks both she and Felicity consumed. That was the point of celebrating their last night of freedom from obligations. They had the rest of their lives to worry about drinking responsibly. Tonight was about bad decisions.

 

Shimmying, shaking, wiggling, and popping the hip. Ella lost herself in the music. With her arms above her head, she channeled her inner “woo girl” and belted out her best shout. Felicity bumped up against her back and joined in. As they turned to dance with one another, a hand slid around Ella’s waist.

 

She lost the beat and snapped her focus to the man before her. She’d “affectionately” nicknamed him Tanner earlier. A trust fund frat boy, no doubt.

 

When he grinned at her, immediately, her skin crawled. The urge to kick him in the nuts tickled through her leg. The intention in his eyes set off far too many alarms in her head.

 

Inhaling deeply, she pushed it down and tried to step back. No good would come from making a scene.

 

“No, thank you.” She attempted to be polite.

 

Tanner moved forward, keeping his hands on her. “Ah, come on. Just one dance.”

 

He pulled Ella toward him until his pelvis contacted her body.

 

The last shot she took threatened to explode as she gagged a little. “I’m good, thanks. I’d prefer to dance with my friend.”

 

Again, she shifted, trying to twist out of his hold. Shaking her head, she reiterated her rejections to his advancement.

 

“I’m better.” He didn’t get it. Of course he didn’t.

 

Apparently, in his mind, this was a game of cat and mouse or something.

 

Well, Ella was no goddamn mouse.

 

So, she twirled to put her back to him, only to see Felicity had a similar situation going on with Tanner’s friend, Brayden, or whatever.

 

Fucking frat bros. Someone really needed to teach them the word “no.”

 

His warm breath on her neck turned her stomach. The feel of him grinding against her ass was too much. His hand slid from her hip to over her belly.

 

No more being subtle.

 

No more playing nice.

 

This had to stop.

 

Scanning the crowd, she sought anyone wearing the too-tight black T-shirt with “security” written across the chest. If she got physical with this guy, she’d need the support of a bouncer. Frat guys were notorious for not taking rejection well. Help was key in keeping this kerfuffle to a minimum.

 

Tall, dark, and handsome extended a hand toward Felicity. Definitely not from a frat house. No, this guy had marketing written all over him. Dressed to impress in his slacks and sleek button-down, this guy drew the good kind of attention.

 

And he rescued Felicity. Lucky bitch.

 

Bump, grind, yank back. Ugh, this guy couldn’t even dance worth a damn. Time to refocus on her problem.

 

“Ella,” her friend shouted over the music with her hand out as she approached. “Let’s go get a drink.”

 

“Whatcha drinking? I can buy it for you?” Tanner said in her ear.

 

Shuddering, Ella shook her head. “Thanks, but no thank you.”

 

He really needed to catch the hint.

 

Taking Felicity’s hand, she attempted to escape from him. Maybe it wouldn’t have to become physical with him, after all.

 

The fingers around her wrist sent her heart into her throat. Rage broiled under her skin when he pulled her hand away from Felicity.

 

“Excuse you!” The women’s indignation came out in unison.

 

Ella had enough.

 

Glaring at the guy, Felicity sidled up to Ella with her arms folded.

 

“Let me get it for you.” It wasn’t a request. He had the audacity to demand to buy her a drink and ignore Ella’s friend

 

Oh, no. Ella didn’t play that way. She’d given him more than enough opportunity to accept her polite declines. She didn’t have to be nice anymore.

 

Bending her wrist , she wriggled out of his hold and whirled around. With an upward thrust, she drove the heel of her other hand up and under Tanner’s chin, then locked her elbow.

 

His head jerked as he fell off-balance. “What the fuck?”

 

The surrounding people backed up, giving them space as they gawked.

 

Adrenaline coursed through her veins, and she couldn’t help but smile. Part of her wanted to keep going. A kick for good measure would be so satisfying.

 

“Bitch,” Tanner commented as he glared at her.

 

Two large men swooped in, one to her left and the other beside Tanner. “What’s going on?” One of them demanded over the loud music.

 

“She fucking punched me.”

 

“He wouldn’t leave me alone.”

 

The taller of the team of security narrowed his eyes on Tanner. “Let’s go.”

 

“What? You’re going to take the bitch’s word over mine?” Entitlement laced his words. Tanner definitely wasn’t accustomed to not getting what he wanted.

 

The bouncer beside Ella shifted his position, placing himself between her and the agitated frat boy.

 

“Yep.” The man beside Tanner curled his large fingers around Tanner’s arm and tugged him toward the door.

 

When the frat guy got louder and dug his heels in, the bouncer just shook his head. He slid a hand on either side of Tanner’s ribcage and yoink.

 

Ella’s eyes widened, and she covered her mouth to keep her laugh in. The security guard had lifted Tanner off his feet a few inches and carried him through the crowd.

 

Cursing and flailing arms did little to stop the progress.

 

Gasps and some laughs rang out around them. A chuckling Felicity looped her arm around Ella’s shoulder. “This is going down in history as our best night out.”

 

“You can’t make this shit up,” Ella agreed.

 

“Declan,”—Felicity subtly gestured to her savior—“wants to know if we would like to join them in the VIP section.”

 

Intention laced her friend’s smirk. The good kind.

 

Glancing in his direction, Ella spotted an equally finely dressed man beside him. A green beam from the club’s lights flashed and illuminated him. The sight had her stomach fluttering.

 

He locked his gaze on her, and her heart skipped a beat. A fire flickered in his irises, and it felt like it reached out for her. She’d never seen such intensity before.

 

He would definitely do.

 

“Sure.” She lifted her shoulder in a half shrug as she openly ran her gaze up and down Declan’s friend. “What better way to celebrate than as VIPs?”

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